...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How water/surface tension won the science fair

This is Parker.

He is in sixth grade this year and sixth grade mean science fair.
(for real, that's not even me being sarcastic)

I love the science fair.  I love watching my kids explore the wonders of nature and scientific stuff.  It is wonderful to watch them learn.

Parker decided early on that he wanted to do a project involving the surface tension of water.

And so we did.
Now, while I often work WITH my children on their projects I am a HUGE believer in making them do pretty much EVERYTHING.  I am happy to guide and encourage them, but I think they should be the one to choose the topic, do the work, type up the information, create the board, etc.  After all, it would be weird for a 38 year old to enter the sixth grade science fair.

Here's how it went:

1. We got three identical containers and filled each with 1/2 cup of water.  To one container we added two tablespoons of salt and stirred for two minutes to let it dissolve into the water.  To another container we added two tablespoons of dish soap and stirred that for two minutes.  We left the third container alone as our control group (plain, tap water). 

2. Next, we got a syringe and a quarter.  Our plan was to push one drop of water at a time onto the quarter and see how many drops we could add to the ensuing "water bubble" before the surface tension could no longer hold the water and the bubble burst.  We would do this three times for each of the water types we created (control, salt water, soapy water).

3. We set to work dripping water drops onto the quarter.  The surface tension of the ensuing bubble actually held a lot more water than we had expected.  We kept a chart with tick marks for each drop that landed on the quarter.  It was pretty cool to watch.

Wow, look at that fabulous surface tension!

4. We noted each time that the "water bubble" burst and counted the number of water drops it took for that bubble to erupt.

5. We then put together our information and sorted it into sections including:

*Introduction (what is surface tension, etc)
*Hypothesis (what did we think would happen, which water type would perform best, guess at how many drops would break the surface tension)
*Procedure (a step by step log of what we did)
*Results (a chart and paragraph about what happened and what we learned)
*Conclusion (how did our hypothesis play out)
*Picture (super important, we took LOOOOTS of pictures)

6. Finally, Parker shared his findings in a fancy science fair board and I think he did a great job...

...and the judges thought he did a great job too, because he managed to come away the winner of the school science fair.

Not too shabby for a few afternoons of science fun.

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